Mashed Potatoes Recipe

September 16, 2012 43 Comments

Best Mashed Potatoes Recipe

What is the best recipe for mashed potatoes?

In my family, mashed potatoes were one of the first things I learned to make. It was also one of the first things I taught my daughters to cook.

Mashed potatoes seem to appeal to almost everyone. But here’s the tricky thing.

Ask ten people how they like to prepare their mashed spuds, and you’ll likely get ten different answers. That’s because, as with all food, defining the “best” mashed potato is a very subjective thing.

Mashed potatoes are one of those side dishes that you probably had more times than you can count when you were growing up, both at home and at the school cafeteria. And the way your mom made them – whether they were red potatoes smashed with their skins on or some mysterious reconstituted potato flakes – is quite probably the way that you like them today.

Or maybe you didn’t like your mom’s version of mashed potatoes and grew up thinking of them as bland, gummy, watery or just plain gloppy. And then, when you had mashed potatoes at your girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s house or at a restaurant, you suddenly realized that mashed potatoes were fantastic. Sorry mom.

But what happens when a reconstituted potato loving person marries a red potatoes mashed with skins person and they look at each other for the first time and one says, “Hey, how about mashed potatoes for dinner tonight?”

“Oh! My favorite!” says the other. What happens next could get ugly.

My wife and I have fortunately have the exact same taste when it comes to mashed potatoes. She makes them completely different from my mom who used a mixer to whip tons of air into hers.

My wife prepares them with an old fashion tomato masher that she either found at a garage sale or grabbed from her mom’s kitchen on the way to college.

Over the years I have watched many friends make their mashed potatoes and it’s amazing how many different ways there are to smash these tubers. Below we will look at how choosing the best potato, how to cook them, how to mash them and then how to season and add additional flavor.

But first, here is my basic recipe for mashed potatoes.

Best Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Best Mashed Potatoes Recipe


2 pounds of potatoes - either starchy - waxy or a mix of both

1 teaspoon salt

6-8 tablespoons (3-4 ounces) unsalted butter

1 cup half and half

freshly ground black or white pepper - to taste,

How To Prepare At Home

Cook the potatoes until fork tender.

Mash with salt, butter and half and half.

Season with freshly ground pepper

Now that we have a working list of ingredients and a method, there are plenty of other decisions to make.

Mashed Potatoes Options

When deciding what type of mashed potatoes you’re going to make at home, there are many factors and decisions that determine your outcome.

What type of potato?

Peel on or off?

Mashing tools?

What ingredients can be added?

All these are talked about at

Best Mashed Potato Options



Last modified on Sat 2 November 2019 4:27 pm

Comments (43)

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  1. Yan says:

    Mashed potatoes are my favorite food, and I?ve recently found a great source of information on mashed potato preparation when I came across your mashed potato recipe on I?m writing to you to suggest ideas to further develop your mashed potato recipe found on your site. You show a thorough understanding of the art of cooking mashed potatoes, without being condescending, and the recipe along with your bottom line could benefit from a few adjustments.

    The recipe?s audience is composed of anyone interested in making excellent mashed potatoes. You succeed in helping people make perfect mashed potatoes by pointing out that the preferences of the reader will alter what they perceive as the perfect bowl of mashed potatoes.

    The recipe is divided into three sections: a theoretical explanation of mashed potato preparation, a basic recipe, and comments from visitors. Each section serves an important function and enhances the reader?s ability to make perfect mashed potatoes. Anyone interested in making perfect mashed potatoes will be interested in the theoretical explanation of mashed potato preparation. This section helps the reader identify the nuances of the process and encourages the reader to experiment with these nuances in their pursuit of perfect mashed potatoes.

    It is clear that you have a great deal of knowledge on how to make perfect mashed potatoes, and a knack for explaining to others how to do so themselves. This is an excellent recipe, and I plan on taking full advantage of it in my quest for perfect mashed potatoes.

  2. Doug Radcliffe says:

    Apparently, individual tastes, when it comes to mashed potatoes, can vary widely. I disagree mostly with your contributors. Their results are what we in the Midwest would term ‘whipped potatoes’, something that is to be studiously avoided.

    I would only use mashed potatoes with gravy – never with butter – and they should be slightly dry and textured. (My ex-wife, however, always said that my ‘perfect’ potatoes were ‘lumpy’. (Hers were like library paste!)) This is probably a subject that no one will completely agree on.

    First, I only use peeled, quartered, Idaho baking potatoes. (I have never found any use for red potatoes. And that includes potato salad.) Often I include a piece of rutabaga or parsnip with the potatoes, but it will need a bit of a head start. When they are fork-tender I drain them and return them to the pot, but not under any heat. (I reserve some of the starch water for the gravy which is a simultaneous operation.)

    I crush the potatoes once with a masher, add the milk or half & half, and then let them sit for a couple of minutes so we’re not mixing cold with hot. The ensuing mashing is comprised of a few quick strokes so as not to gum things up. (Much like the care one would take in the delicate mixing of a meatloaf by keeping things aerated.) All other seasonings are in the gravy.

    If I ever crave butter/parsley/garlic/sour cream/ or anything like that on a potato, I would either bake them in hot resin or boil new potatoes in the spring. Mashed is not where that stuff belongs. Sorry.

    • Brent says:

      At least you’re not being condescending about somebody else’s preference for a mashed potato. Oh wait…

      I like to add a half cup of cream cheese to my recipe and season with garlic salt and pepper. That’s my input.

      • Sylvia Kammerhoff Walter says:

        try to add a little garlic powder little bit white pepper and a drizzle of nutmeg / and make it even fancier mix some cooked cauliflower and fried bacon pieces/ mix all together and put casserole for 5 minutes or so in oven on 350/ good luck good eating

  3. Hillary Froemel says:

    Everyone’s suggestions have been great (especially the pickled walnut one) but I find that instead of milk, using a combination of condensed milk, and regular milk makes mashed potatoes AMAZING! Especially if you use a mixer to blend them.

  4. Rob Clack says:

    Here are 2 alternative ways I like to enhance my mashed potato:
    1. Crush a clove or 2 of garlic in while mashing.
    2. Stir in a few teaspoons of black olive paste.

  5. Nancy Widish says:

    I visited the Idaho Potato web site for tips on mashing potatoes. They suggest placing a quarter of a lemon in the cooking water to prevent potatoes from breaking up. Cook them in their skins to prevent water logging. After cooking, pull the skin from the end of the potato to remove easily. While mashing, add WARM milk to the potatoes gradually to gauge consistency; then add any other favorite condiments.

  6. Christie Chiomento says:

    Hello! My addition to how to make great mashed potatoes, is to leave the skins ON, cut them in half or quarters, and cook until tender. Then, drain, add butter, salt to taste, and pepper, and about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of milk, depending on how many potatoes you have used. Then, add 1/2 tsp. of Baking Powder, and mix with mixer until fluffy. I, also, add minced onion, on occassion–yum! The baking powder is a French way of doing things, but it does make a difference, and “vive la difference!” Leaving the skins on adds a terrific texture, plus added vitamins–plus, you don’t have to peel the potatoes that way! Christie Chiomento

  7. Tim Wood says:

    Your recipe is wonderful. Another suggestion: I sautee’d shallots until crisp and add them to mashed potatoes with a dash of olive oil – Yum!
    People think you made something special. The shallots are very flavorful.

  8. Janette and richard says:

    Once My potatoes are softened,I remove them from the saucepan, strain them, then put them in the food processor with a pinch of nutmeg, a hunk of mature cheddar cheese, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.

    Wow, they drive my husband wild…yeahhh.

  9. Lea Curry says:

    I’m here at your web page and I’m going to take a couple of swipes at your mashed potatoes, but not TOO many!

    1) I think that if you are using Yukon golds or Finns, it is better to leave them whole. My theory is that when you quarter them they loose starch into the water.(I am assuming you have fist size or slightly larger).
    2) I use a masher but I cook them a bit longer and they never a lump. I think people undercook their mashed potatoes. they should not be falling apart, but on the other hand I notice no flavor degradation by cooking until VERY soft. I think this is a better way to get rid of lumps, then ricing.
    3) and NOW for the most controversial part: I use half and half rather than milk. I am bad and evil, but it tastes so GOOD!
    4) Also, if you want to pique the sweetness, try throwing in one small quartered parsnip or add more if you like the flavor.

  10. Nancy Kay says:

    I saute 2-3 carrots & 1 onion in butter – make a puree – add a couple of slices of american cheese and mix in mash potato mixture top with parmesan shredded cheese, a bit of drizzled butter and place under broiler until golden.

  11. Harry says:

    Great Web site!!! Regarding your mashed potatoes – my preference is more butter, less milk. Lea Curry’s suggestion of some parsnips is good – as an alternative piquanter I like a heaped teaspoon of hot English mustard. Regards Harry Ventriss

  12. Allan Taylor says:

    Hi Reluctant Gourmet — from Allan Taylor in Adelaide, Australia

    I admit that sometimes I add cream to them when, after mashing, I convert the potato into a puree with a hand-held electric blender. Yummy The next step is presentation, which you neglect to mention. On the dinner plate, if served as such, upon a white cone of potato I add on top half a pickled walnut. These are jet black and have a striking flavor contrast to the potato. If the mashed potato is served in a large bowl at a dinner party I use a surrounding ring of pickled walnuts (which go well with roast meats) to provide a culinary sight worthy of a king. Regards Allan Taylor

  13. Carol Vonrahmlow says:

    You’re missing a key ingredient! Cream Cheese! You’ll be licking your masher clean!
    Also, to the person who suggested half & half, try using fat free evaporated milk. You’ll get that wonderful creamy “fat” flavor, but. . . . . the grams of fat just aren’t there! Try it, you’ll love it! “The Trotting Gourmet”

  14. kylie says:

    i like potatoes. And this font.

  15. Carolop says:

    Mashing potato…we were both right…

  16. adrlyna says:

    expert 🙂

  17. Sandi Waters says:

    Hi. I am enjoying your recipes. It’s a little harder for me because I am lactose intolerant, diabetic, celiac and have diverticulitis. Anyway, I add turnips to my mashed potatoes – makes them very tasty and more healthy. If you try this, I’d love to know how you liked it.

  18. Lionel says:

    I just wish to say that your blog post is well written.
    Hopefully I can follow up with your other forthcoming post if I have time.

    Thanks and stay sharp to carry on with the writting.

  19. RJ Gibson says:

    Consider this recipe, where the ratio of potato to butter is 2 to 1. I tried it, but felt it was just too much butter (and I love butter). Now I go with 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 (depending on how much butter I have) and they are the best mash potatoes I have ever had.

  20. Deb says:

    Great advice and so thorough. I appreciate the thought behind your post. Thanks!

  21. Tammy says:

    I love garlic mashed potato. I boil russet with about 3-4 cloves of garlic and then mashed. The garlic is soft and yummy in the potato add your butter and milk according to the consistancy you want and yum. So easy and you can add more or less garlic cloves depending on taste.

  22. Andrew says:

    The point about ‘with the skins on’ is not simply about taste and texture. Nearly all the ‘goodness’ (Vitamin C, particularly) in a potato is right under the skin, so when you peel potatoes (and whether you put the peels in a bag with the potatoes or not), you lose most of the nutrition.

    If you like smooth mashed potato (without the skins), the most nourishing method is to cook the potatoes with the skins on (it’s best to use medium-sized and uniform potatoes) and then peel off just the brown/red skin with the aid of a knife. It often slips right off, especially if it’s the thicker kind of skin you find on a russet.

  23. Brooks says:

    Gary, you left nothing unturned in this thorough, comprehensive post. Excellent work!

  24. Laurie says:

    Hi, I grew up in farmland ,ontario and We were taught that the general rule for cooking veggis is this.
    If it grows below the ground you start it in cold water then bring to a boil. If it grows above the ground, you start to cook in boiling water. I don’t know why but if it worked for my granny in the early 1900’s there must be something to it.

  25. Spikey says:

    I’m in my 60’s and married 40 some years. During my time of cooking I used Instant Mashed Potatoes which tasted pretty good… I worked full time and raising chiildren with hubby working shift work and I worked around his schedule… I just started making Home Cooked mashed potatoes and followed this recipe leaving some skins on for flavor and vitamins… YUMMMO Missed out on this flavor since a kid where I had a stay at home mom. THANKS… I’m feeling special again

  26. roxi says:

    mash and rutabaga, try it, cook the rutabaga with your potato and mash just as you would with out, love it, gives it a flavor.

  27. Donna says:

    I steam my potatoes whether I eat them whole or mashed. Wonderful!

  28. Shelly says:

    Firstly, thank you so much for sharing your amazing and creative knowledge regarding “The Art of Perfect Mashed Potatoes”, you have provided me with all of the information I was seeking in one shot! I’ll be attempting to create a nice fluffy dish for our Thanksgiving meal. Love your site and look forward to discovering more of your culinary tips.

  29. Marlene Thornton says:

    I make my mashed potatoes just the way the chefs recipe, I have done this since the age of 12 with no problem.

  30. Rose says:

    I’m going to try mashing Yukon or russet potatoes with some sweet potatoes; in a ratio of 25% sweet potatoes. I will also add plenty of butter, cream and seasonings. Hope it turns out the way I expect it to! 🙂

  31. Charlie Schultz says:

    I like to cook my potatoes (No matter which kind) with 2/3 Potatoes and about a 1/3 of the amount with chopped up cauliflower cooked together then I use a old fashioned masher and Carnatian can milk, butter and some crushed garlic,salt, ppepper, and of course real butter. Mix it all with a mixer. Delish!!! And you get veggies with the starch but not as much starch and a lot healthier. I do like to try other root veggies. But I make my potatoes soup except I keep some chunks of potatoes out and add.them back as I warm them back up to serve
    I have really enjoyed reading all the ideas and comments. Thank you.

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